About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play.

Friday, May 24, 2013

P is for Petulant Pepperpot Peters-out Protesting Punishment

Well, it's sort of finished, and I've definitely put it to bed for now, these are both screen-captchas from my laptop, which while managing to handle the file-size without crashing like the studio machines, also leaves a bit to be desired in the resolution stakes, probably WHY it can handle the graphics - less info per inch!!

This was the final printout, it's a bit crowded for an A4/A3 sheet (we actually printed it in A3 and it's not too bad), but I'm hoping to get it printed A2 on the high street at some point, for the portfolio, and it's designed to show of a range of skills for a potential employer, who will hopefully realise that I can arrange things just as neatly with a little more room!! The grey box-lines and boarder shadows are a lap-top/Picasa thing, showing the hidden viewports?

The finished beast, not really 'finished' but I got enough detail into the breast-plate and toolboxes to con the casual observer, although I've just noticed the UCS is showing...doh!..Er...no...that's the new Dalek external temperature (red) air-speed (blue) and altitude (green) pitot, they're all having them fitted...now they can fly!

I am hoping to come back to it in a couple of months and attack the mid-section in 'Inventor' which may be a better tool for the sort of free-form shapes and intersecting arcs that make up the 'contours' of the shoulder area. But I am pleased enough with the final beastie to have bored you with it for the last couple of weeks! Back to toy soldiers....

News, Views etc...Tatra Plastics, New Book and - sadly - Plagiarism!

But not in the New Book! More on that in a mo...

Tatra Plastics

First; I have been contacted by a Philip Gwynne from the PR company working with Tatra Plastics on their 50th anniversary celebrations, with the following message;

Last year you corresponded by email with Tatra Plastics Manufacturing ref plastic cereal box toys. You may be interested to learn that Tatra is launching a nationwide hunt for any of its toys that might have survived, as part of its celebrations mark the 50th anniversary.
Don't know if you and your fellow collectors can help with the search, so I'm sending you some info just in case. Please let me know how you get on...

As my collection of Tatra is all in storage and a bit non-get-at-able since my Volvo was written off by a petulant Audi TT driver, if anyone has nice examples of the sets mentioned on the original post, or complete sets they might like to lend for any events, or decent photographs, let Philip know, his email - suitably coded to cheat spam robots - is;

philip[at]thenakedcompany[dot]co[dot]uk

Especially if you live in West York's! The futher information is as follows;

TOY STORY!
Company marks 50th anniversary with hunt for oldest cereal box toy made in Yorkshire

Do you remember when small plastic toys came free inside your box of cereals? And how you shook the box to make the toy fall out into your bowl? Did you know that they were probably made by Tatra Plastics Manufacturing, whose factory is in Norwood Green, near Bradford?

To help mark the company’s 50th anniversary, Tatra Plastics Manufacturing want to track down any of their toys that have survived down the years.

"We’d like to hear from anyone who still has one of plastic toys,” says MD Karl Hesmondhalgh. “We know there are serious collectors of this kind of ephemera and there may also be a few plastic figures that have remained hidden at the bottom of old toy chests."

The era of free toys in cereal boxes was brought to an end by health and safety and “small parts - choking hazard” warnings. But for an entire generation growing up in the 60s and 70s, they were a special treat at breakfast… and a proven marketing tool for cereals manufacturers

"It would be nice to know if any survived,” says Karl. “Especially if the owner lives in West Yorkshire, because of the strong local connection




New Book

Barney Brown and Peter Cole, both known for their previous publications on the iconic brand that is Britians; Barney with his in depth looks at Farm, Zoo and Garden plastics and Peter with two editions of his comprehensive look at the history of Britians plastics; Suspended Animation - have come together to produce the next instalment in a growing archive; Herald Civilians - The Golden Years, which covers all the civilian figures not covered in Barney's previous three volumes.

 
Here's a book wot we wrote! (with appologies to Eric Morecambe)
Peter on the left and Barney, with their 'baby' and looking justifiably proud!

It is a lovely work, with all the little things that don't normally get covered in any great depth like the Ethnic and Ballet Dancers. However for those of you who like your gun-play they have covered all the Cowboys and Indians, which are technically 'civilian', however I have a slight point of order to raise with the authors...when a country has two armies - fighting each other - that doesn't make both of them 'civilian'!!

However - they are hard to catagorise and having the ECW figures covered (and photographed) in some depth, will be the best reason for your rushing out and buying it post haste...in fact, you don't need to rush anywhere, just write to Barney for details here;

Cobweb Cottage, Lyminster Road, Lyminster, West Sussex, BN17 7QQ, or eMail him here;

barney_brown[at]sky[dot]com

I believe he has some copies of the earlier publications left as well, so well worth a quick note if you are new to the hobby or missed them frist time round.



Plagiarism

It has come to my notice that a major UK publisher, known to a fair few of you has allowed one of it's authors to get a clear infringement of this blogs copyright past its editors. I will be taking the matter up with the publishers and trying to ascertain when a blog (started in 2008) becomes "pretty old", if the Internet as we know it is barely 15 years old, but in the meantime please make sure you've read (and understood) the legal notice at the foot of the blog-page. It's crap, I know, but it's to protect me and the effort I put into this, and it's not the first time.

Piracy - It's a bit crap! (ABC)

I have absolutely no problem with people downloading images, text or even the whole blog (as happens about twice a month) for their own use, against the possibility that the Internet will cease to exist some time after lunch tomorrow (which never comes), indeed there is no way to stop people doing so, and I do it all the time, but I try to rename anything I download with an 'X' to remind me I can't re-use it.

While it's very hard for me to pursue a private publisher over the pond - using my photographs without permission, to pad-out his interminable and error-filled list of new poured-resin -  it's far more easy to have a word with someone closer at home and I will pursue this.

Please - don't use the stuff without asking...Henk? Are you reading? You clearly visit or you wouldn't have been able to steal the vac-form pictures would you?..stealing my traffic at the same time! If you don't have the stuff to photograph yourself, you link to someone who has. Clearly you've misunderstood the meaning of 'Inter-Net', it's not a Trawl-Everthing-that-Takes-Your-Fancy-and-Drag-it-Back-to-Your-Place-Net! Bloody Dutch Buccaneers, always were a problem.

If you don't understand the [International] rules of/on copyright, intellectual property rights or plagiarism, the answer is simple...don't copy anything until you do! Rant over.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

LFA is for Low Flying Alien!

We always knew they could! Well...they did in the old movie didn't they, and one of the annuals! I finally got the chest/shoulder block and - specifically - the little plates of 'armour' to look half decent, it's still not finished, but after the best part of two weeks, it's looking good! It should be - it's given me several 'ice-cream' headaches and crashed the studio PC four times!

I need to do a lot of chamfering to the various shelves that run round the mid-section, but AutoCAD has decided not to let me do that now, nor will it let me put in fillets as a cheat, so now I know I can do it I may go back and do it again, after getting the chamfers done first.

I still need to sort out the chest piece, which still needs a couple of bolt-heads and a cut-out. At some point the two tool/weapons have come forward of their boxes "...while I wasn't looking your honour!" and will need to be pushed back, and the same boxes need little angled cut outs on the flat outer side, but otherwise well pleased with it and it's as far as I can go on this course really, so I need a job with a firm that will push me further...I can relocate?!!

P is for Posing

I've been without Internet for a couple of days, and spent the time trying to get my Picasa folders sorted out, and dump a lot of electronic junk, and came across these which I had a play with a couple of years ago. I was trying to get scenic backgrounds that looked at least half-real!

It's not that easy, you have to keep an eye on the lighting in the picture, the lighting in the room, any light coming through windows, any shadows cast by you - hovering over the 'studio' and the camera's flash!

A couple of Matchbox kits sat on the edge of the great Sand Sea, looking for the reconnaissance oppo's of the wily Desert Fox; Rommel. It's interesting how the contrast camouflage some vehicles used in the Western Desert are quite effective with the sharp shadows cast at dusk and dawn. Here a faint reflection of the vehicles on the glossy paper is the 'fail'!

Airfix ready-made begins the assault on some mountain pass in the Balkans, on a search-and-destroy against Tito's Partisans. Another thing you need to watch is the scale of the background, and really, the marker-posts in the middle distance are a little big for this toy, a 1:48 or '35th scale AFV might have looked a little better?

Esci armoured ambulance heading out in the evening, after the battle to good good deeds for either side, the war in Libya and Tunisia was not the apocalyptic blood-fest of the Eastern Front, nor the dogged-slog from D-Day to Berlin, having many a gentleman's agreement and moment of decency. In this shot I could never get the perspective right, despite propping the half-track on a lump of blue-tac and moving the picture around.

This is a (Humber?) command car in white metal, I can't remember the maker - possibly Skytrex? It's a lump, and worked quite well with a crop that leaves a lot of the background...Monte Cassino perhaps or Malta?!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

J is for Jolly Joke against John...Major?!!!

After two AFV posts in a row - something completely different! These are just charming little idiotic nothings but what collection would be complete without them!

Casting aspersions on John Major PM, MP's machinations in the field of conflict know as the European Paliament, and harking back to his earlier years this is the joke that just keeps on giving, or at least it would have kept on giving for several minutes in the early 1990's!

Tobar are the culprits, they are the parent company of the brilliant Hawkins Bazarr shops, which went bust last Christmas but still seem to be in business. Tobar also supplied gifts and novelties to other outlets such as BHS and Army and Navy.

Some of you will recognise them as they are more commonly found in a plain red and white paint scheme as Santa's for decorating Christmas cakes! Almost certainly imported from Hong Kong, while I say' almost', I am (after the idiot flame on the UPC post) 99.99% sure they are HK product, but without actual evidence would never say deffo!

Friday, May 17, 2013

T is for Tear Your Hair Out!

Instructions for drawing a Dalek in 3D using Autodesk's AutoCAD;

1.   Tear you hair out, it is far easier to do this at the start when you are still fresh and innocent of what is to come, than to do it at the inevitable point where all hope is lost and the dark walls of reality are closing-in.

2.   Go and find something to do that will bring greater reward and satisfaction in a shorter time period...this author suggests naked lion-wrestling.

3.   Er...that's it.

So, the head; I nearly continued "went together quite easily", but it took most of a week! To be fair, the neck/face grid/visor thing was surprisingly easy and I got that done in a day, but the rest was a shed-load of faffing about, and while it looks 'like' the totally fictional (and themselves differing from episode to episode or even individual to individual) mutated Kaled's, there have been various tweaks and compromises (for compromise read 'Feck-it! That'll do...it looks all right') to the point where it's really an approximation of an NSD.

The helmet and eye-stalk would make an excellent Sci-fi automated gun-turret/coastal artillery bunker thing, which had me and Tom placing naval gun-barrels in the slot to see what they'd look like...they look good! And (never start a sentence with 'and', yes Swan'y I know!) as it's a .dwg file it can be 3D printed pretty much 'as is', and could be scaled to any ratio with a couple of key-strokes.

Indeed, trying to find decent CAD files on-line (yes - to cheat!) I've discovered there aren't any really, there's a beautifully rendered black one somewhere and some nice construction drawings for home-builders to knock-up Daleks from plywood and resin...and bits of washing machine, but a dearth of CAD drawings, so if I get this finished I thought I might offer the files (there are several now, the original drawing got so code-heavy it kept crashing the PC...at three o'clock every day!) on a CD on FeeBay, I have no idea if it would sell, but discs of far more boring CAD-stuff do seem to sell so...?

Speaking of 'if I finish it'; note how I've cut the shoulders off in the screen-grab...I thought that if I could master the head, I could go back to the shoulders with the certainty of success; I had a second attempt this morning - I thought wrong...like I said; easier to tear you hair out at the start and find something safer to do...base-jumping from urban-semi's anyone?

Monday, May 13, 2013

T is for Tat, Quality TAT!

Those who know me from the show circuit will be familiar with my tendency to verbally correct anyone describing common, made in Hong Kong or damaged staff as rubbish, junk or car-boot scrapings with the - tongue in cheek - prefix 'quality', as it quality rubbish, quality junk, quality car-boot scrapings...well; this is quality TAT!

These first appeared in public - as far as I know - in Plastic Warrior magazine a couple of three years ago - or so? If you are a subscriber you'll know! I didn't collect the larger scales then, but had some of the figures as they come-in at around 50 mil and I'd been collecting up to just under 54 for a while, and I sort of fell for it, it's quite an unusual thing, being a copy in plastic of a poured-metal model. Therefore when I saw one at the PW show I just had to have it!

It should be pointed-out that the PW one was in much better condition and boxed, so I present this purely as a new acquisition/box-ticker rather than as the definitive word on the subject! I think also the boys at Moonbase Central have carried a few bits of TaT over the years as well!

A straight copy of the old Britains lead Bren-gun Carrier, the figures can be found loose as Britains hollow-cast lead, and a soft yellowish-brown ethylene (late Britains) as well as these styrene ones (which is why I had them in the "unknown seated military" box). While the Vehicle is 54mm (the Britains 'standard'), the vagaries of production in both metal and plastic, means no leg-room and an inability of the figures to sink into their seat/place like you or I, hence they often tend to be a bit smaller when issued with vehicles.

Note - compare the riveting of the push-and-go motor with the shot I'll be adding to the Shamber's post below any minute now...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

S is for Shamber's, no shambles!

The old TimMee M48 (among other things) has been re-issued and a blog has been set-up to keep people apace with ongoing developments here; TimMee Army, however; partly to prove that the British sounding aspect of the Beverly post (below this one) could be a red herring, here's another British sounding name which is definitely Spanish in make and marketing (there's a couple of their pieces on FleaBay at the moment), here is a different take on the TimMee tank...

...a push-and-go fly-wheel motor! This is clearly the Tim Mee tank, even down to the two little cut-outs below the radiator grill under the rear deck, except it's marked Shamber's. I guess they got the superstructures from Tim Mee and mated them to their own belly-pan? Or maybe they got to borrow the moulds in one of these 1-on/11-off deals? Shamber's seem to have been a bit like Baravelli in Italy or Exin (also Spanish) in bying-in stuff from elsewhere and/or re-badging, while also carrying a bit of Hong Kong rack-toy stuff.

Anyway, it's an improvement on the Fairylite/Jimson copy of the Airfix/Cohn M40-something and at around 1:48th scale, will sit well next to that one and the Raphael Lipkin Conqueror. Apologies for the dust, but I was clearly too keen to get it blogged! And I love the colour, like some late Beton figures, a rich golden olive-green.

[Added 13-05-2013] I suppose I should have shown the dratted motor having mentioned it! So here it is, along with a shot of the underside of the turret which is very similar to the Airfix/T Cohn/Jimson ones. Compare the riveting of the motor-body with the TAT Bren-gun Carrier (post above), it would appear that the Spanish company bought-in the motors from the Far East?

B is for Beverly - whoever he/she/it or they were or are!

Well, competitions both over and done, and lots of stuff to blog from Twickenham, normal service will resume!

Having picked the right side in the Dinky Stadden/Cameron debate the other day, I'm going to chance my arm and say I think these are sculpted by the same chap who did SEGOM's figures, but I'm probably wrong! These Napoleonic premiums are all much of a muchness, whether, Storm, Starlux or Mokerex, that is; standing in a non-combatant pose, legs together, best parade finery to the fore!

These are not the French figures I keep meaning to blog, and for which I took the photographs over a year ago! They are in fact one of each (hopefully) of a set of premiums I haven't seen before...or at least I don't think they are in the French Premium book and I haven't come across them on the 'Net'.

Adrian (Mercator Trading) had these at the Plastic Warrior show and he might still have a few if you get in touch through his website, but not all the poses as they were selling like hot cakes! All the standard-bearers had gone by 11am!

A lot of people showed an interest in them and we kept trying to read the name on the bases, being a myopic crowd of a certain age-group and being convinced they must be a French premium, we were reading Laverer, Lavaere, Belever etc...! It was only when I got them home and photographed them could it be seen they are a thoroughly British sounding 'Beverly'.

This is not to say they are British, but there is absolutely nothing on them on the Net, I tried all the usuals; Vintage/ British/Giveaway/Soap/Washing Powder/Premiums etc...and if they turn-up near mint in Britain you feel they must have been premiums here? Also they are a soft ethylene polymer and most French issues of this type of thing are cellulose or polystyrene?

They look like they could have also been issued with German margarine, French coffee, Portuguese soap-powder, Spanish Sobres and Belgian sweets, so they may well turn up with other monikers on the base. I'm sure they originate in France though, I'm not saying they are that British.

Can anyone add anything to this? All my books are in the storage unit...did Garrett, Rose or Harris mention them? Have you got some with another mark on the base? Other colours? Who or what were/was/is Beverly?

Update - 3rd June 2013

Following-on from the work of Brian in the comments section of this post, I dug out a couple of my own Ƒlan Imperial figures and as can be seen in the above shot; the Ƒlan Imperial (et al?) are considerably bigger and better detailed/cut mouldings than the Beverly figures, which are therefore - as Brian reported - probably copies, albeit quite good ones.

Update - 24th November 2014

It seems it (Beverly) was a sparkling, non-alcoholic, bitter aperitif, available in Italy between 1969-2000. The company was part of or a wholy owned subsidiary of Coca-cola, and there is still the possibility of tasting it at Coca-cola world and at Disney's Epcot Centre, where various other Coke brands from around the world are available. There were two versions, a clear drink and a redish-orange fruit-flavoured version.


Up against more established brands such as Campari it was only ever an 'also-ran' and for now i must assume these figures were part of a promotion to try and raise the profile of a drink which those now indulging in deliberate over-indulgence videos on Youtube would have us believe is pretty vile!

G is for Grunt

There are various stories surrounding the etymology of the term. Date-wise - some commentators (most?) state that it originated with the US Marine Corps, possibly as early as the 1900's, others wanting to date it no earlier than the Vietnam war. I've seen it reported as being created 'between the wars' - that's the two world wars for those young enough to have lived through several more recent 'wars', but yet not old enough to know that two are given a bit more prominence in history than the Bush-B.Liar adventures! While others put it down to coming into use during the Second World War.

Some say it's due to the noise a soldier makes when he lifts his pack, other sources state it's down to a WWII acronym used to designate untrained depot-sent replacements; GR - General Replacement, UNT - Untrained = GRUNT (yet they already have an abbreviation...BCR - Battle[field] Casualty Replacement), while my own preferred definition is that it's the short-form for Ground Troops. Still more will wax lyrical about pigs, mud and the trenches of Flanders?

Anyway, it's a hook to hang this post on and something the Grunts are secretly proud of, whatever the original meaning! I don't often cover new production small scale these days, Dave Keen does such a sublime job on PSR and the Forums do them to death, but these...I know how it felt to look like these....

Peter Burgner (PB Toys) was at the Plastic Warrior show last weekend and chatting in the car-park beforehand I asked if he had anything nice (he always has something 'nice'!) and he said "Yes, A Call to Arms have released a new set in 1:72 scale", as it's about ten years since anything came out of that stable, I was quite amazed and when Peter said they were Modern Infantry I was well up for a set (after I'd established they weren't a re-issue of the Britains Lilliput figures!).

In the end, as I clutched them in my mitt along with a nice German vintage spaceman with detachable (and easily lost) helmet, he let me have them...I promptly got them out to have a look and was a bit confused; I recognised them immediately, but with a head full of figures (and a room-full all around me) couldn't place them.

My brain went "Matchbox NATO paras - no, too slim, too big, no parkas...Matchbox Battlekings - no, no radio operator, no Germans...bloody-hell, it's the Britains Super-Deetail poses!"

Looked at Peter and said, 'It's the failed Britains, scaled-down?", "Yar" he said "They're good, yes?"

And as can be seen from the images above, they are good and not only the failed ones have been produced, but the final series-production ones as well, they really are rather exquisite, and - the reason for the 'hook' above - will cover the 1980's just as well as the stated 1970's. I know because I was that man!

And this is where I can have a go at the uniforms as presented...very rarely do/did British soldiers wear berets in combat, except for some urban patrolling in Northern Ireland, where helmets were considered unnecessarily aggressive or a 'red rag to a bull' and counter-effective. I believe there was some beret-wearing bravado in the Falkland Island's campaign, but there were also some nasty head-injuries.

Yet the second problem with these figures (Britians 'bad' not ACTA's) is that the webbing being worn is not the stripped-down front-pouches and water-bottle you'd expect on Internal Security troops, indeed, it's not really any kind of webbing, being neither full CEMO (Combat Equipment - Movement Order), nor the every-day CEFO (Combat Equipment - Fighting Order), with the respirator case missing on all and two figures having a water bottle where the other kidney pouch should be, something that is impossible as the two pouches were joined together with a gusset and only had belt clips on opposite ends, without one, you'd not have a belt-order of any kind!! While we all had extra pouches and customised webbing in the field anyway, so this is a sort of [inaccurate] depot 'basic-training' set-up.

Still - given that I like both the Airfix Rebs with their 'all Confederates have Boar's hats' rule and the Cherilea late type swoppet knights - who am I to pick holes!! Although...why is there a Stirling SMG on the cover? And if these are 1970's the SLR's should have wooden stock and fore-grip, not black plastic...and that's no 84mm Karl Gustave, it was twice the size and firing it like that would land you on your arse!

These are lovely figures and if you're doing the Cold War you need these, lots of them - to go with all those Airfix ex-BW Lannies and Saladins! And the webbing/helmets can be sorted with a few blobs of Green-stuff?

Thanks to PB for the figures, he has them in stock right now; PB Toys

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

D is for Doctor Doubts Definite Defeat of Dastardly Daleks - Drat, Drat and Double Drat!

Some of you may by now have got the impression I have a soft spot for Daleks...I DO! They're brilliant, totally impractical battle-armour for jellied humanoids who have become the antithesis of humanism, purified evil...I have been sent this classified document, stolen - at some risk to the agent - from the floor-manager Dalek's office in a survival suit factory on Skaros - he threw an old blanket over the manager's head! They're building Daleks again...


Joking apart, this is my attempt to produce a 3D 'Solids' Dalek, and it's doing my head in! I have now spent two days on the shoulders (the base and skirt were quite easy), and it's still not right, the head should go together quite well, it's just a series of stacked dishes with a mesh screen (that's real-world mesh not 3D 'Mesh'!) and a bowl!, but the shoulder is a series of non-circular roundy-shapes with a single mirror-symmetry front-to-back, and all the centre-points are off the 'centre-line' (such as there is one?).

The dark brown ones were my final attempt to get the indent that runs round the cone, and by the time I'd failed to get a workable shape from either of the subtracts I tried I realised I'd have to start again with the green one at the back, which means doing the weapon-boxes again, and they took me a long morning to get right last time!

And to any experienced CAD-monkeys out there...is there any trick to prevent the WCS turning into an unknown UCS, without you noticing because you've brushed a surface in passing? That is; other than throwing a brick at the screen!

Friday, May 3, 2013

News, Views etc...Plastic Warrior Show - next available morning!

Don't forget - tomorrow is PW's 28th Plastic Toy Soldier Show in South West London. I've spoken to several people in the last three weeks who are really looking forward to it, one of whom is familiar with the venue and thinks it's very good, so lets make it the best ever...be there or be...err...somewhere else!

And...freebies for little people...

My 'Tuskers' t-shirt is getting a little long-in-the-tooth these days, so I will be in mufti (scrufti!) with a Segway/BAESystems baseball cap if you want to come over and give me a hard time about something!!


More information here;

This Blog

here;

Brian's Blog

and here;

Plastic Warrior's Blog

or here;

PW's old Website

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Product Review - Horrible Histories - Competition!

Where to start? I seriously think this is one of the most exiting things to happen to toy and model figures in twenty-to-thirty years, as well as being a major development in general toys and boardgames (despite the lack of a board!). Some of the press is already suggesting that this will be the biggest boys playground craze of the near future, but the thing is - both the books and the TV series are just as popular with girls...Produced by Worlds Apart toys in association with Scholastic, this is...

Horrible Histories

The game system comes in various formats from the recent phenomena of 'Blind Bags' at a couple of pounds, through to large sets with all the bits and pieces needed for every level of game-play. Although even the biggest sets are reasonably priced at around fifteen pounds.

Even as I was unpacking them, it was obvious that one could play on several levels, from the simple act of catapulting pigs at each others armies, to more complicated point-scoring, and /or head collecting (yes; heads - history is horrible!), the capitalist act of amassing money, card-based intervention....and that is exactly what the system is set-up for. A quick read of the clear and easy to follow rule leaflet allows for most of the above to be the/a main winning aim, with or without any of the other elements.

Therefore, while I'm reviewing these as figures for adult figure collectables, I'm also recommending them for your kids, nephews & nieces or grandchildren, and if you can get them interested in figures in the 54/60mm range now, they may become the next generation of collectors.

These are the lovely, shiny, larger sets currently available, with the Egyptian sets to the left and Romans to the right. The Starter Sets (top right and bottom left) give you everything you need to get going; pigs and their catapults, groats in three values, head-collecting racks and some play-cards.

The smaller Battle Packs give you a top-up of 'cannon-fodder', cards, groats and a special figure. Not illustrated are two further sets of army booster Special Sets, again with special figures. An arena of battle has been announced and more figures are on the way.


Contents of the sets illustrated above with the Starter Sets above and the Battle Packs below, it will be seen that some of the pigs don't look quite as dead as you might imagine they were in days of old, but it can't be over emphasised...history really was rather horrible!

Cards are used in three ways, a bit like the Chance and Community Chest cards in Monopoly; you can play some of them immediately to gain an advantage, leave some festering around the 'board' (traps) or the rest are used in the points totting-up at the end of the game...luck/chance and strategy!


The special figures include the grand commanders, who are allowed to keep their heads! Only because it's game-over if a flying-pig catches them a glancing blow! And limited edition versions of the blind-bag figures in a gold finish, their groats however score the same as their full-colour doppelgänger, although they both get larger 'ceremonial' weapons!

Clockwise from top left;
  • Ramesses II - The Great - The Great Ancestor, Son of Ra
  • Julius Caesar - The Roman Geezer
  • Gengis Khan - The Great Khan - Temujin
  • William of Normandy - The First - The Conqueror
The cannon fodder! One of the few criticisms I have of this range is that the soldiery have very cartoonish faces, most of the figures have quite caricatured faces, but it works with the 'heros', Boudica looks like she's been very wronged by Rome, Alexander is looking a bit foppish etc...but the 'other ranks' just look a bit goggle-eyed. However that's a 'Toy Soldier' collector's sensibilities talking, and as one of the main strategies of the game is to protect the heroes with cannon fodder, you can pass the troops on to the youngsters as you collect the character figures!

A nice touch with these is that there are more than one weapon type with a choice of spears from the Egyptians and a choice of Pilums (pila?) for the Romans. Armour though is thin on the ground, that's part of the game-play/groat systematics, and a collector will only want one or two of these figures.

A comparison between the blind-bag and special gold versions, you can see the gold ones have larger weapons, which seem to be more like ceremonial tools, especially the huge sword/axe being wielded by the gilded Genghis.

Below is an illustration on what the head-scoring element might look like toward the end of a game...it's Horrible History!

The blind-bag figures, these include three that are less common, asterisked below;

Top Row - William I, Hangman, Genghis Khan and Boudica; Bottom row - Viking Berserker, Alexander the Great*, Blackbeard* and a Highwayman*.

In addition to removable heads and separate weapons/accessories, the figures all have at least one movable-arm, some have both arms articulated.

There is a video of a blind-bag opening here;


For the collectors among you, here are a few comparison shots with various commonish figures, another criticism of these is the large groat provided for a base, and again it's purely from the point of view of a collector, but it makes them a tad tall for standard 54mm figure collectors, however they are of varying height and sit well with some '54mm's' and most 60mm figures, if re-based most would look right at home.

There is a nice attention to detail with this range, and we see here that the pigs can double-up as pencil-toppers, and spare parts are supplied for both the catapult elastics and the very small pistol that comes with the Highwayman - anticipating loss.

Also a couple of extra shots showing arm-movement and another comparison shot with a 54mm figure (Timpo Apache) on the Worlds Apart base.

Musical heads! An unintended consequence? If your heads are removable - they will be swappable! Giving a real motley crew for Blackbeard to recruit in the upper shot here, and some more humorous combinations in the lower picture. It's Timpo-lite

This toy really needs to succeed, and if it does (the Horrible Histories franchise has been around for a while now and covers most periods), we could be looking forward to WWI and WWII figures, Napoleonic or English [un]Civil War sets, who knows?

So please support the range, get the sets for the young people in your life/family and collect the hero figures...if this range takes off and runs for a few years you'll kick yourself if you weren't 'in' at the start!

Even the packaging is interactive, with cartoons on the back illustrated with the figures, rats looking out and a 'Where's Wally' take-off, while the weld-fold/flap on the blind bags reveals a sorry-looking chap hanging around if you fold it back!

This flap also hides a clue to the contents, if you know your Roman numerals;

CCCXXIII BC - Alexander
LXI - Boudica
CMLXV - Viking Berserker
MLXXXVII - William I
MCXXVII - Genghis Khan 
MDL - Hangman
MDCCXVIII - Blackbeard
MDCCXXXIX - Highwayman

So that's the new Horrible Histories game sets and figures from Worlds Apart, a pleasure to review, a joy to play with, highly collectable, infectious game-play, great value and easy to recommend to all.

And that's not all...

COMPETITION

The PR company helping to launch this range has kindly put-up some serious prizes as follows;

One First Prize;
1x Roman Starter Set, 1x Egyptian Starter set, 1x Roman Battle Pack, 1x Egyptian Battle Pack and 4 blind-bags

5 runner up prizes;
Each prize to consist of 1x Roman and 1x Egyptian Special Set and 4 blind-bags

These prizes will be sent out by the promoter, to stand a chance of winning, you need to answer the following question in the comments section, I will employ comment moderation for a period of 7 days, during which time all comments will be hidden, after that time all correct answers will go forward to the draw, winners addresses (or a valid eMail if you don't want me having your home details) will need to be forwarded to the promoters. To help youngsters to enter I have switched the word-verifier off.

The question is;

What were the original titles of the first two books in the Horrible Histories series and when were they originally published?

The draw will close at around midnight (British Summer Time) next Wednesday/Thursday turnover (8th/9th May). Please encourage your younger family members to enter!

There's still more...

Speaking of younger family members, if you were thinking of attending the PW show this Saturday (4th May - details on PW website and blog), you may find the organisers have a number of blind-bags for the afternoon give-away to encourage the next generation of collectors, but they're limited so you need to be there when they call it.

Finally - Thanks to Cairyanne and Fosbury PR for supplying both the review samples and the figures for the Plastic Warrior show.



Competition...Posting and Eligibility...Originally published on 07/05/2013 02:04

Someone at work was having problems with commenting this afternoon and I've had an email from someone asking if they can enter from outside the UK?

The answer to the later is yes, this is open to anybody, the reason the skateboarders were limited to the UK was that it would have cost more than they are worth to post them, and while the makers suffer the same problem, they are hoping for a good review (which they get because they are lovely figures not because they are free!), whereas with the current competition, a major toy company has offered the prizes without caveat, as they will not see them as 6 invoices from Royal Mail, but rather as 6 new collectors who will hopefully add to their prizes with purchases of other/forthcoming/future sets and figures.

As to the former problem, perticularly if you are not familier with Blogger...

...instructions; scroll to the end of the Horrible Histories review post (article beneath this one on this 'page') and find where it [currently] says "4 COMMENTS" (fig.1), left-click on that wording and you will get a pop-up panel (fig.2), scroll down that past the [currantly four] published comments to find the embedded dialogue box (fig.3) and write your answer (clue - wikipedia!), then tick (left-click) the relevant 'radio-button' (fig.4, you can see I've ticked anonymous which has automatically unpicked the default 'Maverick Collecting' which was live in fig.3), if you don't have an Internet presence that is indicated by the other buttons, left-click on "Anonymous" and then left-click on the orange box-button "Publish Your Comment".

Remember we need the two titles and the year of publication, and something to identify you - especially if you publish as 'anonymous', winners can send their contact details after the draw so you don't need to publish any address, telephone number or eMail, just a name or blogger ID etc...Don't comment on this post as it will be deleted in a day or two!

Good Luck!



Horrible Histories Competition...Results Originally published on 09/05/2013 00:51

Competition is now closed, comment moderation has been lifted, but capcha is also back on...you wouldn't believe the amount of Spam I've had in the last 7 days!

All entries seem to be correct and the draw will take place tomorrow, with results posted on the original post probably at tea-time. Thanks to all who entered, there is only a slim chance you won't win something!



Competition Prize List - Originally published on 09/05/2013 18:59

I used the same randomiser that Sean used on his blog the other day, as I felt that names-in-a-hat didn't quite cut it for 6 prizes out of eleven entries.


So Smellymudhut, you have won the first prize, all those below him (her - Doh!) to and including Christopher Webster [Sean, Brian, the Brooks' and Ferryman] have a runner-up prize to come.

Please can those listed get their names to me by next Wednesday, after that time I will offer the prize to the next name on the list until I have 6 addresses to sent to the promoters.

Thanks again to all who entered, commiserations to those who failed the randomiser, and maybe we will have a similar one when the next tranche is released?

Hugh

(PS - to prove it really is 'random' it's invented a 12th invisible entrant? How random is that!)